News • September 28, 2023

Jurupa Valley’s Robidoux Library ‘Came to the Rescue’ During Pandemic

We are a family of readers. When COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 threatened to become a booklover’s calamity, Louis Robidoux Library came to the rescue. Many Riverside libraries and bookstores had closed, and our twin grandchildren were sent home from Bryant Elementary to finish sixth grade on their computers in a virtual classroom.

Our bookshelves are packed wall-to-wall with volumes dating back to our college days. The children’s bookshelves are full as well. But we had either read these books already or lost interest. We all needed more books: Nonfiction academic books for my husband, adventure or speculative fiction for me and exciting tales for our soon-to-be seventh grade grandchildren.

None of us like to read books on our computers. We want to turn pages, slip in a bookmark and carry our books from room to room. We didn’t want to order books from Amazon. We wanted to check out books at the library as we always had.

We quickly learned that our Robidoux Library was up and running. If the local site didn’t have the book, library workers would order it from other libraries in the Riverside County Library System that remained open.

As the designated book-fetcher, all I had to do was order books on the library website, drive 8 minutes west to 5840 Mission Blvd., in Jurupa Valley, call 951-682-5485 from the parking lot and recite my library card number. Then a masked library worker in protective gloves would meet me at the gate and hand over the coveted books in a plastic bag.

Our grandchildren could keep up with their favorite series at the time: Chris Colfer’s “The Land of Stories” for her and Brandon Mull’s “Beyonders” for him. Audiobooks are my go-to in times of stress, and I had fallen in love with Mma Precious Ramotswe in “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” and could take a virtual trip to Botswana to listen to her adventures and wisdom. When the Riverside County Library System ran out of the series, I stayed with Alexander McCall Smith and traveled to Edinburgh for “44 Holland Street” and “The Sunday Philosophy Club.” For a romantic time-traveling adventure, I turned to the “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon. If we didn’t finish our books in the designated two weeks, Robidoux automatically renewed it for us.

Post COVID-19, we remain loyal to the Robidoux Library, which is modern and breezy, but feels like an old-fashioned library focused on books. Attractive displays of topical children’s books to the right, adjacent to the children’s reading room, topical adult books front and center, reserved books to the left. Of course, computers are available, but they don’t dominate the library.

I haven’t forgotten my library card number, which comes in handy when I use the automated checkout, though friendly staff members are always willing to help or to check us out personally.

On the way out, we sidestep to the left to visit the Friends of the Library bookstore to see if someone has donated a philosophy or historical volume that entices my husband, a fantasy series for our grandchildren or an Anne Perry Victorian mystery for me. The bookstore is always open with a collection box for the $1, $2, or 50 cent books we take home. We often bring a bag of books to donate, and it’s fun to see them disappear from the bookstore shelves.

Although we’re there for the books, the library also offers children’s programs, adult computer classes, live online homework help, family game nights, movie nights, S.T.E.A.M., internet access, word processors, large print books, audiobooks, DVDs, music CDs, newspapers, tax forms, copiers and downloadable audiobooks. There is a bilingual conversation once a week, a lawyer comes by twice a month, and literacy tutoring (available in the building next door). Informational brochures and booklets are adjacent to the automated book return, and we recently picked up a DMV manual for our soon-to-be 16-year-olds.

Best of all, the library is open every day except holidays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. most days, but noon to 8 p.m. Thursdays and 1-5 p.m. Sundays.

We always take the scenic way home to downtown Riverside, past Rancho Jurupa Park and Mt. Rubidoux. A fine midday outing.

Donna Kennedy writes flash fiction and memoir, now that she has retired from journalism and teaching. She and her husband, William Linehan, co-wrote ”Queen of the Salton Sea: Helen Burns and Me.”